The official alleged that the petroleum ministry is not moving ahead on the proposal despite committing itself to the project at a high-level meeting led by the cabinet secretary in the last week of July. “In fact, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan was initially keen on the project, but his ministry has failed to approve the minutes of the meeting held in July,” the official told ET on condition of anonymity.
Under its methanol economy plan, the Aayog had proposed that 15% blending of methanol, or methyl alcohol, with petrol will lead to 10% reduction in India’s oil import bill, an idea which has the highest level of government approval.
The last resort to get this through is via the intervention of cabinet secretary who had assured support to the project at the last meeting, the official said. The government is keen to roll out the project next year with the expansion of methanol production capacity at the Assam Petrochemicals (APL), jointly owned by Oil India and the Assam government.
APL is using natural gas supplied by the company as feedstock for methanol production at its Namrup plant with production capacity of 100 tonnes of methanol per day. This is expected to go up to 500 tonnes per day by the middle of next year. Besides APL, there are four main producers of methanol in India — Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizer & Chemicals, Deepak Fertilizers, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers, and National Fertilizers.
Niti Aayog member VK Saraswat has drawn up an ambitious ‘methanol economy’ roadmap, under which he foresees annual reduction of $100 billion in crude imports bill by 2030 if the country moves to 15% blended fuel, both for transportation and cooking. This would, however, require doing away with the current practice of blending ethanol with petrol. At present, vehicles in India use up to 10% ethanol-blended fuel.
While ethanol costs Rs 42 a litre, the price of methanol has been estimated at less than Rs 20 a litre, significantly lower to enable a shift from ethanol to methanol. It is estimated that a 15% methanol blend could see petrol prices drop by about 10%. The concept of ‘methanol economy’ is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, the US, Australia, Japan and many European countries. In fact, 10% of transport fuel in China is already methanol.
As per the Aayog’s plan, methanol would eventually be produced from abundantly available coal and other bio resources in the country besides being manufactured synthetically. This will ensure that the rising demand for methanol could be met going forward. The Aayog has suggested that the government can even consider roping in foreign companies, either at its own level or through private players, to meet the initial demand for methanol till India becomes self-sufficient over the next four years.
India is the third-biggest oil importer globally. Its oil import stands at close to Rs 5 lakh crore with 2,900 crore litres of petrol and 9,000 crore litres of diesel consumed annually. In addition to reducing fuel prices and the country’s annual oil import bill, the use of methanol will also help in reducing pollution.
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2 Comments on this Story
Anubhav m764 days ago
APP Partys advertisement Golden Opportunity for unemployed Youths , Kamal Nath Statement in Madhya Pradesh that his Government will reserve Jobs for local people by making Industries to employ Local people are all wake calls for Ruling Party. Ruling Party can no longer rely & depend upon Ministers Who cannot hear people Voice, who have no real Vision & Plans, who cannot sit down with Stakeholders to Prepare a action Plan for Each Industry, Each sector Each region . Real Action is what is needed today. Prime Minster himself should take things in his hand.
Anubhav m764 days ago
Adana & Ambanis could be taking Points in Election 2019 & Ruling Party has to be careful. Govts stubborn & Unmoveable stance, Posture before assembly Election of 3 States not to reduce Petrol Prices could have be one reason of Loss in all 3 States. Govts today should not take aspirational Public for granted for too long Ruling Party had 4and half years to Solve Crude Oil problems. Life runs on Energy. People Vote in anger and they can Vote to any XYZ in anger. This ruling Party has to put behind Industrialists and move very very swiftly in remaining 4 months and act , Farmers are agitating , Banks do not reach out millions of needy to Students , to farmers to start-ups, to MSMES , to workers in unorganized Sector . Deception of Frauds in Real Estate in NCR is affecting many Industries. Frauds in Big Companies like IL&FS is leading to Job loses . BJP has the Most Dedicated, Committed, hardworking, Knowledgeable Prime Minster yet it is woefully short of “Smart people” ( Some Minsters are Smart and have ability & Talent ,Will & Intention)